“Live the Gospel” Charles Spurgeon Advised

Can anyone but Christ live the gospel? Disagreements on the answer to this question can be seen from Open Letters to The Fear of Antinomianism. I wonder if the disagreements lie within what one means when challenging others to “live the gospel.” I don’t know of anyone who uses this phrase to mean that Christians should literally live Christ’s life. Nevertheless, it is interesting that Spurgeon used this phrase on a few occasions. Some (all?) of these occasions are quoted below, bold emphasis mine.

To be prepared for the coming conflict, we have only to preach the gospel, and to live the gospel; and also to take care that we teach the children the Word of the Lord. – Charles H. Spurgeon, “Childhood and Holy Scripture,” in Come Ye Children: A Book for Parents and Teachers on the Christian Training of Children.

Give us your holy living, and with your holy living as the leverage, we will move the world. Under God’s blessing, we will find tongues if we can, but we greatly need the lives of our people to illustrate what our tongues have to say. The gospel is something like an illustrated paper. The preacher’s words are the letterpress, but the pictures are the living men and women who form our churches; and as when people take up such a newspaper, they very often do not read the letterpress, but they always look at the pictures, so in a church, outsiders may not come to hear the preacher, but they always consider, observe, and criticise the lives of the members. If you would be soul-winners, then, dear brethren and sisters, see that you live the gospel. I have no greater joy than this, that my children walk in the truth. Charles H. Spurgeon, “Soul-Winning Explained,” in The Soul-Winner : or How to Lead Sinners to the Saviour.

If you cannot speak the gospel, live the gospel by your cheerfulness; for what is the gospel? Glad tidings of great joy; and you who believe it must show by its effect upon you that it is glad tidings of great joy to you. I do believe that a man of God—under trial and difficulty and affliction, bearing up, and patiently submitting with holy acquiescence, and still rejoicing in God—is a real preacher of the gospel, preaching with an eloquence which is mightier than words can ever be, and which will find its secret and silent way into the hearts of those who might have resisted other arguments. Oh, do, then, listen to the text, for it is a command from God, “Rejoice in the Lord alway!” – Charles H. Spurgeon, Joy, a Duty.

There are two great precepts for the conquest of the world for Christ—the first is preach the Gospel—but the second is live the Gospel and if we do not live the Gospel, we shall not succeed in preaching the Gospel! In fact, those members of our churches who do not live the Gospel, undo through all the week what the preacher of the Gospel endeavors to do on the Lord’s Day! It is a fine thing to preach with your mouth, but the best thing in the world is to preach with your feet and with your hands—in your walk and in your work! And if you are enabled to do this, the people will be able to say very little against the preaching of the Gospel when they see the result of it in those who accept it! God grant that we may be all preachers in some way or another! – Charles H. Spurgeon, The Soul’s Awakening, “Exposition of Matthew 11:1-6.”

Just what did Spurgeon mean by “live the gospel”? I wonder if it was considered helpful or harmful during his time.

Let's connect!

in Church Issues,Culture,Gospel,theology

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charley February 8, 2011 at 10:51 am


I am currently doing some reading, study, research, and learning about how to ” live the gospel “….

I want to clearly understand and communicate to others “” How to Live the Gospel “”…

I have read over your blog and have found some very interesting comments by Spurgeon….

Will you please answer the question for me…”” Just what did Spurgeon mean by “live the gospel”? …

Also…”” How does one ” Live the Gospel “…??

Please email me with your answers…!!




2 Ed Goodman February 10, 2011 at 1:10 am

In an age during which preaching often encompasses mere rhetoric alone, it is refreshing to be reminded that the Gospel is more than a message for Christians – disciples of Christ MUST make it a lifestyle!

3 Aaron Armstrong February 13, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I suspect in his time it might have been considered helpful; in ours, it can be helpful provided we’re clear on what we mean. What I take Spurgeon to mean is living in light of the gospel, thus acting as agents of reconciliation (as Paul commands in 2 Cor 5).

If that’s what people mean when they say “live the gospel” I have no issue with that. However, it too often seems to be code for social activism without evangelism.

Not sure if that’s helpful, but those are a few quick thoughts.

4 MarieP July 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I just found this link after googling spurgeon.org for some quotes. I found the Joy, A Duty sermon (which might as well be a chapter out of Desiring God!)

You might get a little blog traffic because I posted this over on Challies blog 😉

5 Mark July 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm

MarieP, hi old friend! Thanks for dropping by. Hope you are well.

6 rhodafender July 26, 2013 at 8:20 am

WHAT is the confusion?  How can a Christian not understand this?  Living out HIS life by loving the sinner and hating the sin, showing compassion being a builder (edification ) being light in a very dark world .  Telling everyone we come in contaqct with that JESUS died for them (The good news) = that’s the gospel.  We dont/ can’t do this without Him though we have to receive His power, Resurection power in us.


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